Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Freezer Stock-up Day!

Today was mostly cool and cloudy. Perfect day to stock up the freezer with some soups and sauces. I spent most of the morning chopping veggies, and stirring pots of lentil soup, pea soup, and spaghetti sauce. I use Barefoot Contessa's recipes for the soups. The spaghetti sauce recipe comes from my dad's memories of spaghetti he ate as a kid. He grew up in a predominately Italian neighborhood (well Sicilian to be exact) and he loved his spaghetti sauce dark and thick. I've posted the recipe if you're interested.

Bill's Spaghetti Sauce:
1 large yellow onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce, plus two cans of water
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, plus two cans of water
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup (approximately) red wine vinegar. (Honestly I just pour and taste until I think there's enough.)

Add olive oil to pot until bottom is just covered.
Saute onions until smushy soft (almost a paste).
Add garlic and dried herbs and cook for about two minutes (add a little water if necessary to keep from scorching).
Add canned tomato products and water.
Add bay leaf
Stir in red wine vinegar.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer with lid ajar stirring occasionally until sauce is reduced by half (approximately 3-4 hours).

Tomorrow is clean the stove top day!

Summer Pottery Sale

For the third year Susan generously opened her house to several of her pottery pals for our very successful summer sale. (combined sales just over $3,200) Every year I promise myself I will make some new items, and every year I end up selling my old stock. I'll have to make some stuff eventually or else I won't be able to participate. I did all right this year (considering my very limited inventory) and have tucked the money away for an extruder I hope to buy next year. Here's some pictures:

Susan's packed dining room.

That's my table with the blue tablecloth.

And I had a few pieces on the second's table.

Charan chats with some customers.

The heart of the operation! Jill tallies up the sales, Kazumi wraps the purchases, and Susan keeps the music going.

Jill's Barney needs some loving.

I was surprised how sad I was to sell the very first mosaic I had made.

Time to relax!

Murano's Bite

I confess: Paul and I eat for our entertainment. Can you blame us? There really are quite a few good places in Tacoma to chose from. We were looking for some place new, and remembered hearing good things about Murano's Bite so off we went.

Now, I love a good Manhattan, and they are hard to find, let me tell you. Bartenders either forget about bitters and vermouth, or they dump in some juice from the marachino cherries, or (worse case scenario, and I'm talking to you McMenamins!) they add cherry liquor. The Bite's Manhattan was just right, cold, smokey, slightly Paul ordered a Scotch, and was soon enjoying some Dewar's (evidently their house brand).
The food was good too. Not great, but good. Paul had Chicken Ceasar Salad, and I had their organic chicken something. Okay, okay, yes, obviously I liked my chicken, but I'm not convinced our dinner was worth the bill -- with drinks, dinner, and tip it was over $75.
That's a pretty fancy evening for us. I'm not sure we'll be back for dinner, but we couldn't help but be tempted by their lobby bar. Beautifully decorated and so inviting, maybe we'll go back with some friends for their Thursday night all night happy hour. Anyone interested?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Dash to Portland

A glitch with Lisa's work study program, Paul writes an incorrect address on her rent check, a new car just itching for a road trip, and it's off to Portland to set things straight. I was going to take my son and his girlfriend along but those plans fell through at the last minute. Luckily for me Paul ended up taking the day off to keep me company. Neither one of us relished my taking the trip alone.

We arrived in Portland around 11:00 a.m., dropped off Lisa's rent check, and decided to grab some lunch at Por Que No?, a cute little restaurant in what used to be a garage for one of the many houses on busy Mississippi. Anne says it's her favorite place to eat.
Such a cute place.
Waiting for our lunch.
It's no myth. People in Portland love their bikes!
And the City provides them plenty of places to park them!
It was worth the wait!
The Mississippi area is a great place to explore. It's filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and public art. It's a little "grittier" than it's neighboring district to the north, NE Alberta, but like Alberta it's jammed full of business offices, residential housing, shops, restaurants, and drinking establishments.
There's a recycling store that's the same as any other you've seen, except for their front door. It was a community art project, and it's just amazing!
We didn't stay too long. We wanted to make sure we missed the rush hour traffic, and it was 96 degrees by 1:00 p.m. Who wants to walk around in that heat?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day Trip Number One

Recently we took a road trip to McMinnville and Walla Walla which begged the question: why don't we do this more often? We figured we don't have to take a week-long vacation in order to see all sorts of wonderful things in the Pacific Northwest. We could take mini-vacations or day trips. So we asked some of our friends if you had a free day and felt the road calling your name where would you go? Yesterday Paul and I picked two of the suggestions (Paul added a twist by including the new Central Link from Tukwila to downtown Seattle), and we headed off for Day Trip Number One.

My brother Jim suggested: Seattle Waterfront. Aquarium, ice cream, see the mummy dude, do the arcade, lunch at Ivar's Chowder bar, dinner at Spaghetti Factory, maybe a run up to the Seattle Center or Westlake Mall. My friend Charan agreed saying: Recently I have been thinking about doing the whole Seattle thing. Downtown, water front, aquarium, pike place market. Paul's son Ben said: come visit the Ben's...see their beautiful new apt together and go out for lunch or dinner! Paul and I have been talking about the new link from Tukwila to Seattle, and thought why not combine them all and spend a day in Seattle?

The Link was so much fun. We drove to Tukwila, parked our car and headed for the train. It was a smooth ride, a little over a half hour and we had fun peeking out the windows -- especially at the cars that were stopped on I-5 in traffic jams. Sound Transit did a good job with all the stations, and I loved looking at all the public art. (I hope they do as good of a job with their extension from Tacoma to Lakewood.) We traveled all the way to Westlake Center (a round trip ticket from Tukwila to Westlake per person is $5 and good on buses outside of the downtown free zone). It was wonderful not to have to battle downtown traffic or deal with the parking headache. We made our way up and out of the bus tunnel and shopping areas to meet up with Pat. Benagain (Ben's boyfriend is also named Benjamin. To keep them straight when we're talking everyone else calls him Little Ben, but I call him Benagain) soon joined us and we were off to Le Pichet to see Ben and have some lunch. Lunch was amazing. You can see pictures on the link above (Day Trip Number One). After lunch Benagain, Pat, Paul and I went to Pikes Place to look around their rummage sale, and then we split up. Pat had a shift at the Can Can, and Benagain was off to the Brasa for work.

Paul and I strolled around, did a little shopping, sat in the park, and waited for Ben to get off work. Then we were off to see his new apartment (he moved in with Benagain at the beginning of the month) where we relaxed for a bit and visited. Soon we were off on another bus to go to see Benagain at the Brasa. Some luscious cocktails, delicious small plates, and some great conversation had us wondering why don't we do this more often? It was getting late, and we had to get home to our puppies, so it was goodbye hugs all around and off we went to Westlake Center to catch our train home. It was around 9:30 when we pulled into the driveway, and the girls finally forgave our abandonment after some pets, and a very late dinner.

We managed to do most of the things on the list. Westlake Center, Pikes Place, ice cream, lunch and dinner, but never made it to the waterfront. Another time absolutely. Pat wants us to move to Seattle, but we both agreed -- Seattle is a great place to visit but we love living in Tacoma. What a great day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blind Wine Tasting Tonight!

I'm very excited for tonight's Wine Pundits gathering. We'll be meeting at Rick and Heather's for a blind wine tasting. I think they're really interesting -- tasting wine without the visual signals from the color, bottle, label. Should be an interesting night.

Heather selected a Tapas theme for the evening, which should be fun. I was going to make stuffed dates, but I'm having trouble finding them. I haven't given up yet so maybe it'll still happen. Just in case I've started roasting some garlic and red peppers for my hummus, but who knows? Maybe I'll get lucky and bring two dishes tonight!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Walk, Some Talk, and Breakfast.

Today was the first day I've been out of my house since Sunday. I had a reaction to some antibiotics, broke out in hives, and today I finally felt well enough to move about. Heather and I met for our usual walk around the neighborhood, but this time we went across the sky bridge to Ben Dew's for some breakfast. We had oatmeal which was delicious and filling, and now I'm at home trying to catch up on emails, blogs, and phone calls. Who know? I feel so good I might even get to some house work. Naw, that might be pushing it a bit. Maybe tomorrow!

Does any one really park in their garage?

We returned from a short trip to Idaho visiting with Paul's family on their yearly trip to the lake. Paul was anxious to get home, because this was the week that we were finally going to clear out the garage and the downstairs room so we could set up my pottery studio, and maybe park our car in the (wait for it...wait for it)...garage! As usual I forgot to take before pictures, but if you could imagine all this Filled with junk, and piled on top of this
Which is now neatly stacked and ready for our garage sale, then you have a pretty good idea what it used to look like.

The downstairs room is another matter. Years of stuff stashed in the room to sort through "later"Kids moving and could we please store these boxes for just a few months
To maybe the kids might want this one day
Along with all my supplies and equipment make for a nightmare.
Hopefully we'll have a sale this weekend, and get rid of more stuff. The "after" pictures may not look so good, but we're thrilled with the progress we made.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Take Me Home Country Roads

Today I had lunch with someone I have not seen since June of 1979! Dawn and I first met in the 6th grade. She had moved to Puyallup from Alabama. We became friends, and even performed in the school talent contest together singing "Country Roads" with Cindy accompanying us on piano. Anyway, we were friends through junior high school but lost touch in high school as friends sometimes do. Dawn joined the Army after graduation, and I found employment as a secretary first at an office supply store, and then a construction company -- eventually moving to Seattle to attend an art school. Dawn contacted me first through, and then Facebook. It was great catching up with her, and I found out she lives in Spokane with her husband and two children so we made plans to meet during our annual trip through Spokane to and from Pend Orielle.

It was wonderful to see Dawn, and I recognized her right away. I swear she hasn't changed a bit except for losing her accent. She claims it can come back in an instant when her sister visits. Paul sat patiently as we commiserated about the usual aches and pains of growing old, losing memory and mobility, and the few odd (in her case) or many (in mine) pounds that have stuck to our bones.

I had warned Paul that she might tell a story. It's one she and I have discussed several times over the last few months. I know she tells it to express her gratitude for a kindness received when she needed it, but I'm usually left with this squirmy feeling that I should have done more. It was in the 7th grade, and I'm not sure why but for some reason Dawn started coming to school without a lunch. Somehow or another I noticed it, and started sharing the odd piece of the lunch my mom would pack for me. Dawn remembers how on Friday I got to buy my lunch, and I would share a slice of bread from my lunch plate.
Dawn did tell Paul the story, and as she was showering me with compliments all I could think was I wish I did more. I wish I was more aware of her situation, and I wish I had shared more. I wish I had invited her over to my house for dinner or to spend the night, and I wish I had made more of an effort to stay in touch.

It was wonderful to see her today, see her smile, and hear her laugh. I'm glad she's happy. And this time I'll stay in touch.

Idaho Day Trip

I've been coming to the cabin at Pend Orielle for about 12 years now. It's nine miles from Schweitzer Ski Resort, and while others have taken advantage of the spectacular views, hiking, berry picking, and the cool air for some reason I never have. That is until yesterday. I was feeling pretty lazy when I woke up, and thought maybe we could lounge around town to stroll around Sandpoint's historic downtown shopping area (all two blocks of it) instead of packing the car, and driving to the cabin. Not sure why I thought that would be fun, it really hasn't changed that much since I starting coming to Idaho. Paul suggested maybe we could go to Schweitzer Ski Resort, and look around there. Hmm, why not? The mountain was pretty, and had wonderful views of the lake, which unfortunately was shrouded in a haze. It was fun to walk around the lodge grounds, and watch the children attending their summer camp climb rock walls, bungee cord jump and gleefully shrieking as kids do. Paul very bravely agreed to accompany me on a ride up the chair lift (I've never ridden on one -- they're fun!) even though he detests heights. I'm afraid he missed the ride down (his eyes were closed most of the way) so I took lots of pictures for him to look at later. Speaking of which, instead of spending hours transferring photos today, I'll leave you this link instead. You can view yesterdays pics, and the rest of Paul's facebook photo album.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Day at the Lake

Monday morning, and most of the crew have arrived: Tom, Anne, Sam, Laura, Jason, Maryann, Emma, Paul and myself. Terry and Nico arrived just in time to relax a bit before dinner. Carmen won't get here until Thursday, but unfortunately we're leaving the day before. What's that? Where's the pictures? Well, here you go!